To celebrate the launch of Radisson Blu’s brand new, standalone Cocktail Bar and Grill House – named Fire Lake with reference to its Minnesotan roots (for those of you who aren’t aware, Minnesota is known as ‘the land of 10,000 lakes’ and actually has 11,842) – The Light’s social media team was invited for lunch to experience first-hand what the new venue has to offer.
Although Fire Lake has only just officially opened (back on June 1st), we’ve already heard a lot of great things about it. We were especially excited to visit Fire Lake after reading the official restaurant review in the Yorkshire Post last week, in which the food and service was given a massive five out of five stars. Surely it must be good? The word ‘good’ doesn’t cut it. Words that do spring to mind following our lunch experience are ‘amazing’, ‘sophisticated’, ‘delicious’, ‘ ‘TO DIE FOR’, ‘presentation’, ‘FUSION’, ‘refined yet down to earth’ and ‘Yorkshire’ (of course)! There really is no other venue in Leeds quite like it, and here’s why… On arriving we were led to one of the chef’s tables – a long-high bench – positioned with a front seat view of the kitchen. It’s easy to get distracted, as you take your seat, by the colourful delights adorning the chef’s pass, including mini chilli plants and jars of pickles. You’re surrounded by details and Fire Lake has got service ‘off to a tee’, from the tiny pegs designed to attach your napkin to your clothes and the ice cold water containing summer berries. Once seated, the attentive staff talked us through the menu; a treat in itself. The waitress points out the subtle nods to Yorkshire scattered through the menus, such as the starter ‘Buckets O’Mussels’ and the main course of ‘Line Hooked Seabass’ accompanied by ‘Bradford Onion Bhajis’, which she tells us are proving to be a fast favourite. The specials boards include speciality meals created by each of the chefs – as if the menu wasn’t overwhelming enough. What’s unique about Fire Lake is that all of its meats are cooked in a josper, a special charcoal oven which helps to bring a smoky flavour to all grilled meats. This form of cooking gives the meats a taste that’s like no other and the staff, who clearly know their stuff, urge steak lovers to sample the delights from the grill. Following a lot of big decision making, we finally made our choices and ordered. One of the team is a vegetarian, and as any veggie knows, a grill house can be a bit tricky. You often get stuck with one option (normally a salad) as you watch the rest of your party get excited about the vast array of choices before them. Not at Fire Lake!! Many of the dishes are veggie-friendly, or adaptable (all detailed in the menu) and the staff are eager to offer assistance to make your meal as special as the meat eaters’ in your party. Our resident veggie opted for pea soup to start (without the Yorkshire ham which normally comes on the side), followed by the falafel-in-mushroom burger for main. And for the meat lover in the team, a starter of fried melting crab croquettes and with ‘The One and Onglet’ butcher’s steak for main. We were served works of art, presented to the highest standard with extreme attention to detail. Just take a look at the pictures which speak for themselves… Pea soup The pea soup came highly recommended by two members of staff and it did not disappoint. Extremely tasty, the dish was simple yet moreish and each spoonful went down a treat. The accompanying bread melted in the mouth – it took a lot of restraint not to lick the bowl! Falafel-in-mushroom burger The bun-less burger came wrapped in protective paper with hummus and seasonal veg on the side. It was simply delicious and was finished far too quickly. A hearty option for the vegetarians out there. Melting crab croquettes The crab croquettes were an absolute ‘melt-in-your-mouth’ delight. Containing no potato, the little balls were bursting with crab meat and were seasoned to perfection. The accompaniment of the red onion relish was a fantastic pairing for the dish and added just the right amount of bite! Crispy, tasty and an all-round winner. ‘The One and Onglet’ This was the real shining star of the meal. They say the josper brings a whole new taste to the steak and boy does it do just that. Ordered medium rare, the steak was supremely succulent and had been marinated in a special marrowbone gravy – the only way to describe the taste is heaven! Although the steak came with a sauce of your choice, béarnaise in our case, it was unnecessary as the juices of the steak were too good to mix. This was nothing like any steak we’ve tasted before and even though it was only lunch time, the whole plate was cleared! For drinks (it was lunch time after all) we stuck to a small glass of white wine each. The menu does boast an extensive list of cocktails and on returning, we would most definitely opt for one of the barman’s fruity masterpieces – the one’s we peered at from across the bar looked amazing! A meat lovers last thoughts: A beautiful restaurant that caters for all occasions. Be it lunch, a romantic dinner or a special celebration, there’s a part of the restaurant for everyone. The food is first class and the steaks are to die for! My recommendation for steak lovers would be to look no further than the butcher’s block (aka the steak section) when ordering. A veggie’s verdict: Not what you’d expect from a grill house, where salad is often one of the only suitable choices on offer. You can relax in the sophisticated and stylish surrounding, while you pick out the minor details scattered around this utterly transformed venue. If you visited before the renovations, you’re in for a lovely surprise. I plan to visit again and again.